Saturday, February 6, 2010

Duck Ham and Venison Bresaola

I have been very fortunate over the last few years to be able to hunt with some great people in a great area. Minnesota's deer population has done very well recently and the area I hunt in is known as an intensive harvest area. This means that I can shoot up to five deer if I wanted to. I have never shot that many deer but every year I do bring home two or three deer for the freezer. I am yet to shoot a nice buck but I am able to fill the freezer and have enough venison for the year, so i am pretty happy. Having an abundance of venison gives me the opportunity to try many different things. Over the years I have smoked whole legs and made venison prosciutto and every type of venison sausage you can imagine so this year I was hoping to try something different.

Salting and curing meat is one of those things I don't think I will ever know enough about. I love every aspect of it. Making jerky and prosciutto and hams is so much fun and the end result is very rewarding. With any luck I will be able to purchase a smoker this year and open up some new possibilities. In the mean time I will keep salting and drying meat and enjoying every minute of it.

I have made venison prosciutto a few times and have made duck prosciutto also. I had some duck breasts left from the hunting season and of course have a good amount of venison so thought I would try something new. I came across a recipe for lamb bresaola and duck ham and thought I should give it a try. For the duck ham I took two breasts and packed them in a salt mixture of:

1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 tbls ground white pepper
1 tbls thyme leaves
2 crumbled bay leaves

You cover the breasts completely in the salt mixture so the duck is covered on all sides and let sit in the refrigerator for 3-4 days then you rinse the breasts completely, dry them sprinkle with fine ground white pepper wrap in cheese cloth and hand fro 2-3 weeks to dry. When done you end up with an absolutely flavorful salty beautiful piece of duck that you can do several things with. I like to slice it thin and fry in a pan like bacon and serve it with eggs for breakfast. It also makes a nice addition to a cheese tray or Charcuterie platter.

The recipe for lamb bresaola came from Michael Symon's new book Live to Cook. I have felt for a long time that you can use venison in place of lamb and get away with it almost every time. So for the Venison Bresaola I used a one pound piece of venison back strap and and used a similar salt mixture to cure it:

1 tbls kosher salt
1 tbls sugar
1/4 tsp pink salt
1 tbls chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh lavender
11 tsp ground blcak pepper

After you mix together the salt mixture place it in a 1 gallon freezer bag with the venison loin and shake it to coat the venison. Place it in the refrigerator for seven days flipping it over every day. After a week take it out rinse the loin clean then pat dry wrap in cheese cloth and hang for about a month. After the month has passed you can take it out of the cheese cloth slice it thinly and serve any way you want to. I have been trying it with everything and absolutely love it. Although these preparations take time they really are worth the wait.


  1. I picked up some lavender seed the other day so hopefully we will have plenty this year. Also once we get the rosemary outside we should have loads of that as well.

  2. I am headed to Texas this weekend to hunt geese and ducks. I hope to recreate this recipe for duck ham with the ducks we shoot. I have just discovered this blog but that picture of you and the shot animal is great. What was the animal? Is that a .243 you are holding?

    1. That is a doe antelope from this years trip to Wyoming, and that is a .243. Good luck on your Texas hunt.